Funds from the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) will start going out to eligible low-income nations as early as next week, according to an announcement from the bank on Monday.
The US$195.8 million is headed to 64 of the world’s poorest countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19, including a number of nations on the African continent.
The PEF funds will support the coronavirus pandemic response with medical equipment, personal protective gear, medicines and other needs as governments fight to manage the crisis. The money is in addition to the World Bank’s $160 billion commitment to the COVID-19 response, said Annette Dixon, the vice president for human development.
Decisions on allocation are based on country population size and the number of reported cases in nations already made fragile by conflict and extreme poverty. The awards range from $1 million to $15 million.
“We welcome that the PEF now provides urgently needed help for the poorest countries,” said Gerd Müller, Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany. “Crisis and refugee regions in particular need rapid support for stabilization. This is an important lesson from past health crises.”
Germany, Japan and Australia are among donor nations with seats on the PEF steering committee, alongside bodies including the World Health Organization. Liberia, a nation eligible for funding, holds one of two committee seats reserved for countries served by the World Bank’s International Development Association, and all the funds will go to impoverished IDA-member nations.
The insurance fund was established in 2016 in the wake of West Africa’s Ebola crisis. It has previously been used to address two Ebola outbreaks in Democratic Republic of Congo, one in 2018 and again in 2019.
Image: World Bank Health